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Exoneration Statistics To Consider

Being accused of a crime is difficult, but being convicted and jailed is an entirely different scenario. A false conviction can see an innocent person spend much of their life behind bars for a crime they did not commit.

Improvements in investigative tools such as forensic science and DNA testing have helped wrongly convicted people defend themselves in court and seek exoneration. For those wrongly jailed, many have been able to clear their names after a prison sentence. Many go so far as to plead guilty to a lesser sentence, knowing they were totally innocent.

Some of these individuals have been in jail for many years, without the means to prove that they were tried and convicted improperly. With the help of these improved tools and techniques, and nonprofit organizations like The Innocence Project, people wrongly convicted are now able to seek exoneration.

What Is Exoneration?

To be exonerated is to be cleared of an accusation, either through the presentation of evidence of innocence, a defect in a conviction, or other actions that completely clear an individual of the charges that have been levied.

For instance, if someone is charged in a robbery because of a garment they were wearing, submitting evidence of the person’s whereabouts without the incriminating garment shows that another individual wearing it committed the crime. The evidence of the accuse whereabouts will exonerate him or her of the charges, and will be dismissed.

How Does This Happen?

There are a number of reasons why someone could be wrongfully charged and convicted. The most common are:Exoneration Statistics To Consider

  • Witness identification of perpetrator
  • Zealous police and prosecutors
  • Police misconduct
  • False confessions
  • Perjury
  • Faulty forensic evidence and inadequate testing
  • Racial bias

These cases are being reviewed and reworked by some prosecutor’s offices with Conviction Integrity Units (CIUs), and others are assisted by nonprofit innocence organizations like The Innocence Project and the National Registry of Exonerations, whose work is to free wrongly convicted individuals.

Statistics on DNA Exoneration

Since the introduction of DNA testing for criminal cases in 1989, The National Registry of Exoneration estimates that more than 2,500 individuals have been freed, and more than 22,000 years of life were lost behind bars due to wrongful convictions.

The registry’s report on 2018 reveals the following:

  • CIUs were responsible for 58 exoneration
  • “Professional exonerator,” nongovernmental organizations such as the Innocence Project, were responsible for 86 exoneration
  • CIUs and organizations working together were able to exonerate 45 people in 2018
  • A total of 31 individuals were exonerated in Chicago on drug and weapons charges as a result of an investigation into corrupt police officers led by Sergeant Watts.
  • Illinois had the highest number of exoneration, at 46, due to the Sgt. Watts affair. Texas and New York are tied in second place at 16, Michigan in third place with 9 and California with 6.
  • The DNA exoneration in 2018 totaled 23, about 15% of the overall total, with 60% for murder cases, 7% for sex crimes, one case for attempted robbery, and one case for kidnapping and sexual assault
  • Seventy cases in 2018 were individuals who were wrongly incarcerated and no crime actually occurred. This included one murder case for which the defendant spent 25 years on death row for the murder and assault of a 21-month old girl. The injuries that indicated his guilt were actually unsuccessful medical procedures by emergency room physicians.
  • Texas had 363 exoneration in 2018, the highest rate in the US
  • The bulk of US exoneration in 2018 came from just four counties: Harris County (Texas), Cook County (Illinois) Kings (Brooklyn) and Dallas counties.
  • Nationwide, the city with the second most exoneration per capita from wrongful convictions is New Orleans, Louisiana.The state incarcerates at nearly twice the national average, with many incarcerated who haven’t even been convicted of a crime.

The Most Popular: Drug Charges

Exonerated prisoners are frequently the target of drug charges, particularly for African-American defendants, who are five times as likely to be imprisoned for drug possession as white defendants. Innocent African-Americans are 12 times as likely to be convicted of drug crimes as innocent whites, even though the rate of illegal drug use is about the same for both groups.

In Harris County, Texas, which includes the City of Houston, the crime labs take an extra step of testing drugs that are seized during arrest, even if the accused pleads guilty. In many cases, the substances are found not to be illegal drugs. As a result, 48 of Texas’ 58 exoneration in 2016 were in Harris County.

The CU for the DA’s office began calling for the backlog of drug cases to be cleared in 2014, which prompted crime lab testing of substances taken during the arrests. As a result of the testing, the first 48 defendants were exonerated, and 10 were exonerated in 2017.

Harris County’s African-American community makes up 20% of the population and account for 62% of the exoneration.

Defense or Exoneration? Contact Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County Assistant District Attorney who can defend you or your loved one against wrongful criminal charges and work for exoneration. Call Mr. Brinkley today at 919-832-0307 or use our contact page to schedule your free consultation.

Effective Defenses Against a Raleigh Drug Charge

Drug charges—of any type—are always a serious matter. Since most drug charges can end in a conviction, you’ll need an attorney who knows what the state will go through to get it.

How can you defend yourself against a drug charge in Raleigh? Here are some ways an attorney can offer a defense:

Effective Defenses Against a Raleigh Drug Charge

·         Illegal search and seizure—the Fourth Amendment guards all citizens from being searched for no reason, and requiring probable cause. Generally, authorities need a search warrant to search your home, but in a car, drugs in plain view of the officer are an exception. But if your car was searched without a warrant or without your consent, your Fourth Amendment rights may have been violated. The drugs would then be inadmissible in court, and the charges will likely be dropped.

·         Proving possession—the state must prove that any illegal substances found actually belonged to you. For instance, if you were riding in a car with a number of people, proving possession will be more difficult. Being near the drugs may not be enough to convict, and a defense attorney can cast doubt on you being in possession.

·         Proving that it was drugs—a “mysterious white powder” must be analyzed by a crime lab to determine whether it’s baking soda, over-the-counter medication or an illegal controlled substance. If it isn’t, your attorney can argue that there’s no way to prove that the “powder” was a controlled substance or not.

·         Where are the drugs?—a defense attorney can require the prosecution produce the substances in question that are being used to bring you to trial. If the prosecution doesn’t keep track of what the police recovered, and can’t produce the evidence at trial, your attorney will have a strong case to have the charges dropped.

·         Planted drugs (aka “entrapment”)—it’s not unheard of for an individual to “plant” drugs on an innocent individual, including the occasional law enforcement officer. While this scenario is rare, your attorney can raise this defense if there is evidence that points to the possibility that someone had the motive. The prosecution is then required to prove that the substances were not planted and belonged to the defendant.

An attorney who understands drug charges, the court process and how to create a strong defense is your best chance of success in the courtroom.

Your Drug Charge Defense Attorney

Offenses involving any form of drugs—from a small amount of marijuana to a saleable quantity of anything else—can land you in jail. Drug charges can ruin your life forever, even if you’re innocent. Don’t plead “guilty” just because you think you should. Find a drug charge attorney who will fight for your rights.

Whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, your defense is critical to the outcome.  A criminal defense attorney experienced in drug cases can defend you in court and make sure your rights are protected. Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law.

Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 for a free consultation.

How Can I Get My Raleigh DWI Dismissed?

North Carolina takes drunk driving very seriously. With some of the strictest laws in the US, a DWI is a difficult charge to defend, and even more difficult to dismiss. But with the right legal representation, good fact investigation and a strong defense, a DWI can, in some circumstances, be dismissed. Here’s what you need to know.

Was The Arrest Conducted Correctly?

How Can I Get My Raleigh DWI Dismissed?A police officer must follow specific, proper procedures for a drunk driving (or any) arrest. He or she must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to pull a vehicle over, and be able to prove that you were, indeed driving while intoxicated or otherwise impaired.

There are some occasions where an officer made multiple mistakes in the arrest and the DA dismisses the case, but those are very rare. If you’re not lucky enough to have the charge dismissed by the DA before trial, you’ll have to fight in court.

If the arresting officer mishandled the arrest or made other mistakes that are crucial to the arrest and criminal case, a judge may decide to dismiss the case completely. But you must have all the facts of your case documented, along with any evidence. Mistakes like:

  • Failing to read your Miranda rights (right to remain silent, to have an attorney, etc.)
  • Acting in a disrespectful and/or intimidating manner
  • Displaying any improper conduct toward you during your arrest
  • Improperly administering a breathalyzer or field sobriety test

Evidence That Disproves The Officer’s Claim And Creates Doubt

Again, the police officer must have probable cause to pull you over and begin an arrest. His or her testimony carries a lot of weight in court. However, details are important here. For instance, if the officer did not actually witness you driving the car while inebriated, there may be some doubt involved, and the case could be dismissed.

Witnesses who can corroborate your story can also be helpful. If bloodshot eyes are the only evidence of your “intoxication,” they could indicate another condition such as allergies or fatigue (or crying.) Without additional evidence, such as an odor of alcohol, a field sobriety test, or a blood alcohol level test, the prosecution can’t positively prove that you were driving and intoxicated.

One medical condition that can actually raise BAC is Candida albicans. That’s a scientific name for yeast overgrowth in the gut. In advanced cases, yeast overgrowth can actually cause detectable levels of alcohol in the blood without a drop of alcohol consumed. Candida can be diagnosed by a simple blood test and is easily treated and eradicated with antifungals and diet. But left untreated, candida can cause symptoms that could lead an officer to believe you’re actually driving drunk.

This is where you’ll need a good criminal defense attorney at your side, both before and during the trial. Your attorney can request evidence from the police department from the arresting officer’s records, including any video. He or she can also investigate other evidence before the trial that can prove your innocence.

You Can’t “Plead Down”

In some states, a DWI can be reduced to a lesser charge, like reckless driving. However, North Carolina doesn’t allow reductions of DWI. In fact, under N.C.G.S. 20-179.4, DWI charges are actually more difficult. Unless the state can’t produce a witness, such as a police officer or other witness that can prove that you’re guilty, your case will go to trial.

Get Help From Raleigh’s DWI Attorney

An experienced DWI attorney can review your case, examine details, investigate and find out the exact circumstances of your case before you go to court. That’s why it’s important to have someone who knows how to defend someone in a DWI case and bring a successful outcome.

Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307  for a free consultation. You can also email us at dewey@deweybrinkleylaw.com.